SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — On Tuesday, Lexmark said that it is getting out of the inkjet printing market. The announcement follows last week’s dismal earnings report from Hewlett-Packard, which some analysts blamed in part on poor sales of printers.

I think Lexmark is now finding out that the printing business isn’t what it once was. That means not only the printers themselves, but more importantly the ongoing revenue that you get from ink.

Computer printers were once a very lucrative market. If you calculated the ink by the gallon, it would translate to hundreds or even a thousand dollars a gallon for ink. The fact is, people are printing less now.

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One of the obvious reasons for the downfall of print is the impact on the environment and the consciousness to produce less paper. But we now have alternatives to printing, including the use of smartphones and tablets to post pictures on social networking sites.

Many people aren’t even using cameras to take those pictures anymore. They just use their phone and upload it instantly. People can get much wider distribution on social networks like Facebook, whereas they used to spend money on special photo printer paper. There just isn’t the need anymore.

I think there will still be a future for printers and multi-function devices. Some good news for the printer industry is new software making it easier to print from an iPad or iPhone. Printing will still exist for professional photographers and for businesses, so I don’t think it will go away. It’s just going to become more challenging to market.

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